Text: “The good news is that your hair will grow back!”
Response A: Omigosh, I did not know that! Thanks for educating me!
Response B: That changes how I feel about chemo! I’ll just turn this frown upside down!
Response C: Please excuse me while I go scream into the deep, dark cancer-riddled void until my remaining hair follicles melt.
Response D: ___________________ [if you can’t say anything nice…]
I’ve run out of polite ways to respond to this “good news,” if I ever had any at all. So I’ve taken to saying nothing, like a disapproving parent staring down her nose until the kid repents. Or maybe that was just my Mom’s special power. Either way, mad-staring into the messages app on my phone isn’t working.
Oh, I know this friend means well, that she’s trying to be optimistic—as were all the other 99 friends and relations who tried to cheer me up with such “good news.” So it wouldn’t be playing nice for me to bite off each of their respective heads-full-of-hair with my snarky repartee. No, no, the “good patient” is grateful for the outpourings of pep talks and platitudes. It means they care!
Sarcastic as all of that sounds—and is—I do appreciate having so many people concerned about my cancer journey, so many people eager to help me and my family. When my mother discovered that lump in her breast, some thirty years ago, my sister and I (her only children) had just moved hundreds of miles away. Her thirty-year marriage had just ended. She was unemployed and couldn’t pay her bills. She did have good friends who rallied to help her, but I know she felt deserted and desolate. Recalling her loneliness now, I’m embarrassed by my current riches of support —and appalled at my snide responses.
So I’ll just blame my poor attitude on chemo-rage. It’s really a thing, I did not make that up…though I totally would have if I hadn’t just spent twenty minutes Googling until I found someone else said it first. Which totally makes it legit.
And now here’s that angel tapping me on the shoulder, a subtle attempt to divert my undivided attention from the one dressed in red on the other side. “Psst. This chemo journey is your chance to take a break from your usual cynicism and denial. Take this time to work through and release some of that anger.”
Please excuse me while I go scream into the deep, dark cancer-riddled void until my remaining healthy hair follicles melt.
I know the angel is right. I’m just not ready to go there today. How often do I get a legit excuse to rant and rage? Not nearly as often as you might surmise if you’ve read….well, absolutely anything else I’ve ever written. I’m gonna relish my chemo-rage while I can. Until I grow up, I mean.
Response E (selected): Tbh, I just can’t take any more positive platitudes right now. I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m scared. Even if it’s only temporary, I am still living a nightmare, and I have miles to go before those luscious locks return. Sorry to be blunt, I know you mean well & I appreciate that, my friend.
Cancer Log posts chronicle my journey through treatments for uterine cancer